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Panthers vs. Eagles 2014 final score: Mark Sanchez guides Philadelphia to dominant 45-21 win

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Philadelphia Eagles backup QB Mark Sanchez had a great game against the Carolina Panthers, leading his team to a 45-21 victory on Monday.

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NJ Advance Media for TODAY Sports

As it turns out, Mark Sanchez is a perfectly capable quarterback, at least while running the Philadelphia Eagles offense. Sanchez, starting in place of the injured Nick Foles, guided the Eagles to a dominant 45-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football. Sanchez finished with 20 completions on 37 attempts for 332 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

Sanchez may not have put up monster stats, but he threw some awfully pretty passes. One such pass went for 29 yards to Brent Celek, taking the Eagles to the 1-yard line. They eventually scored on a LeSean McCoy run, but the pass was the highlight:


It's worth noting that pass play came after yet another Panthers turnover. Carolina wound up turning the ball over five times, with three of those coming from Newton interceptions. The other two were fumbles lost by Newton and running back DeAngelo Williams.

It was a miserable start to the game for the Panthers. Williams fumbled on the second play of the game, which led to a Philadelphia field goal as the ball was recovered at the 22-yard line. On the ensuing drive, Newton was intercepted on a slant route intended for Kelvin Benjamin, which led to Philadelphia's first touchdown of the day.

Carolina did manage to piece together an 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in response, but on their next possession they were forced to punt to Darren Sproles. As is usually the case, punting to Sproles was a bad idea, as he took it back for a 65-yard touchdown. See the section at the bottom for more on that.

In the second quarter, things just got worse for the Panthers. Mark Sanchez hit Jordan Matthews for a 13-yard touchdown and Bradley Fletcher intercepted Newton for the second time, taking this one 34 yards for six and a 31-7 lead.

The second half didn't offer any relief for the Panthers, though they did manage to put some more points on the board when Newton hit Benjamin with a pair of touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. By that point, the game was already at 45-21 in favor of the Eagles with under six minutes left and was well out of reach.

Three things we learned:

1) The NFC South might be the worst division in football this year

Both the New Orleans Saints and Panthers were among the best teams in football last year, and when both got off to poor starts this season most people figured they'd right their ships. But through 10 weeks of football, both teams have losing records and the division is still up for grabs.

There's always been one or two teams that struggle in the NFC South, but this year the Panthers and Saints don't look much better than the Atlanta Falcons or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New Orleans leads the division with a 4-5 record, coming off a loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Carolina is now 3-6-1, while Atlanta is 3-6 and the Buccaneers are just 1-8. Things are not going well for the NFC South.

2) Darren Sproles vs. Punter rarely works out for the punter

Sproles is one of the most elusive players in the league and has been for a long time. He's not the kind of player who typically puts up 100-plus yards on the ground or in the air on a week-to-week basis, but he's got a penchant for breaking big plays. He broke one of them against the Panthers on Monday.


As usual, that big play came on a punt return, when the only player with a "realistic" chance of tackling him was punter Brad Nortman. The punter was the only one with a real angle on him and we're willing to bet that Sproles didn't even think about his juke that froze Nortman. We'll take Sproles in that battle 10 times out of 10.

3) Jordan Matthews has his breakout game

The Eagles spent a second-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft on Matthews, and obviously they expect big things from him. With DeSean Jackson gone, they need another playmaker to complement Jeremy Maclin. Thus far, Maclin is leading the team by a wide margin, with tight end Zach Ertz and receiver Riley Cooper lagging behind him.

Matthews has been looking for his breakout game and he got it on Sunday. He notched the first 100-yard receiving game of his NFL career and looked good doing it, catching seven passes for 138 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Eagles need to see more of that, especially with Nick Foles' injury.